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TOKYO (Reuters) - Several ministries in Japan may have inflated their numbers of disabled employees for more than four decades, media said on Friday, while companies that miss quotas set by law face fines.

Japan, reeling from data-tampering scandals at companies ranging from Kobe Steel to Nissan Motor that prompted government inquiries, has asked all government ministries and agencies to recheck their employment numbers.

Since 1976, both the public and private sectors have been told to employ a certain percentage of the disabled, as part of efforts to provide them employment and stamp out discrimination.

But several agencies may have overstated their numbers of disabled employees since the quotas were first adopted, including those with minor disabilities not officially certified as such, several media said.

Actual employment of disabled who qualify for the quotas may have been less than half the 2.5 percent reported last June by central government agencies, the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper said.

If true, that implies a shortfall from the requirement of 2.3 percent. The private sector must meet a lower figure of 2 percent, missed last year by a small margin. This April the quotas were raised to 2.5 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively.

The labour and welfare ministry confirmed the request for a recheck of all 34 government ministries and agencies.

A labour ministry official, Takanori Yoshida, said the request was prompted by suspicion of "a misunderstanding" over the categories of candidates qualifying for the disabled quota, going by the queries the ministry received from some agencies.

The ministry planned to announce its findings as soon as possible, Yoshida added, but did not elaborate.

(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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Reuters